President Obama issued a Memorandum on Federal Benefits and Non Discrimination directing the Director of the Office of Personnel Management and the Secretary of State to extend a small number of federal benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees. While same-sex partners will be given access to some health care services and employee benefits previously available to different-sex spouses, health insurance coverage has not been included.
The Memorandum issued on June 17, 2009 provides that the domestic partners of civil service employees can be added to the long-term care insurance program and that employees can use their sick leave to take care of domestic partners and non-biological, non-adopted children. For foreign service employees, benefits included the use of medical facilities at foreign posts, medical evacuation, and inclusion in family size for housing allocations.
Despite this modest step in the right direction for recognition and benefits for the partners and spouses of LGBT federal employees, the new policies fall far short of treating such employees equally. The most obvious and perhaps the most significant benefit missing is full health insurance eligibility for the domestic partners or spouses of gay and lesbian employees.
As a presidential candidate, Obama vowed to fight hard for LGBT people and those with HIV. As part of our health care fairness campaign, Lambda Legal is conducting a national survey to document the unique health care experiences and needs of LGBT people and people living with HIV. The results will be used to educate elected officials and other decision makers about the specific problems health care reform must address.